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Bullying really hurts. Unfortunately, it’s really prevalent in our schools, playgrounds, community, and in the workplace. Did you know a famous study by Debra Pepler and others found that bullying happens every 7 minutes on the school grounds and every 25 minutes in the classroom? How about the US statistics that 1 in 4 kids is bullied and 30% of adolescents are involved in moderate-frequent bullying? Bullying is a huge issue that can have life long consequences.
When kids, teens, or adults are bullied, it can have a huge impact on them. Some of the troubles may include: difficulty concentrating on work at school or in the workplace, feeling badly about themselves, feeling really alone, feeling hurt and frustrated that bystanders don’t speak up or stand up for them, missing school or work, dropping out of things that used to really interest them, having thoughts of suicide and/or acting on those thoughts, and health problems like headaches or stomachaches. Bullying memories can stay with people for the rest of their lives, as I wrote about in November last year. See this psychologist’s path to solution-focused therapy.
One of the things I talk with kids about in counselling is acting as if what the person is saying or doing doesn’t bother you. That’s certainly easier said than done. With kids, I tell them a story to help motivate them to be like an actor and train someone to stop bugging them.
The story goes like this:
There were a group of scientists who did some experiments with dogs. For the first part of the experiment, they rang a bell every single time they put out some dog food. Soon the dog learned that the bell meant food was served and would come running, slobbering all over.
For the second part of the experiment, the scientists would ring the bell and only sometimes put the food out. What did the dog do? The dog came every time because s/he knew at least some of the time there would be food there.
For the third part of the experiment, the scientists rang the bell and never put out the dog food. Eventually the dog learned the bell had nothing to do with food and stopped slobbering or paying much attention to the bell.
What’s someone whose bullying trying to make you do?
Feel and act upset!! Sooo, the goal is to train the person not to bully anymore by acting as if what s/he is doing doesn’t bother you. If sometimes you show it bugs you and other times you act as if it doesn’t, guess what will happen? The person will keep on bullying you because s/he knows at least some of the time s/he can get a reaction out of you. But if you practice acting as if it doesn’t bug you, eventually you take the fun out of it.
I ask them if they’ve ever trained a dog and we talk about how they did it and look for ideas around time, practice, and patience and how similar this is to training someone not to bug you.
Other things kids can do…
Important parts of this story include going over some other things kids can do such as talk with someone about their feelings, do something that helps them feel better, leave the situation as quickly as possible, find allies, tell an adult, etc.
There are things kids, teens, and adults can do to stop the bullying. Here’s some online info:
http://www.overcomebullying.org/bullying-support-groups.html (includes workplace bullying)
Renée Meggs is a Registered Psychologist who works with adults and children to help them do what works, both in counselling and coaching. If you’d like to book an appointment or inquire about my services, please e-mail me at email@example.com and/or go to my website at https://reneemeggs.com. I can meet with you in person, on the phone, or on-line.